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Disney leans toward spectacle in extensive upfront hype

In a pre-week marked by smaller events and a lack of star power on stage, Disney put everything it had (short of any cast members) into a Expansive Tuesday afternoon pre-demo.

It included dozens of stunt performers dressed as samurai fighting in the aisles. But we’ll come back to that.

On a gigantic stage in a massive hall at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, it took a full minute for some talent to walk through, and Disney reported from ESPN and ABC touts every one of its brands, from FX and Disney+, to Marvel and Lucasfilm.

While there may not be any cast members, the company included all the stars it could get, talent from ESPN like Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning , Hannah Storm and (they soon-to-be colleagues) Pat McAfee, ABC news anchors David Muir, George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan (11 in his Appeared hours after Fox’s pre-).

Serena Williams was there to announce a new ESPN documentary series , where NBA star Donavan Mitchell talks about his next career step, LSU’s Angel Reese and WNBA star Breanna Stewart tout women’s sports. Five months after his collapse stopped Monday Night Football in its tracks on Aikman and Buck’s arena.

New Year’s Rockin’ Night Host Ryan Seacrest presents a scripted entertainment segment while The Bachelorette’s Jesse Palmer introduces reality television, including appearances by Kim and Khloe Kardashian to announce new episodes of their Hulu series.

While sports, news and off-the-cuff fare do make up the bulk of the presentation, Disney relies on its mainstay franchises in the MCU and Star Wars extended session, Kevin Feige previews upcoming Disney+ Marvel series, while Kathleen Kennedy prepares for upcoming release Lucasfilm fare.

Security guards patrol the aisles, playing trailers and sizzle reels, making sure attendees aren’t taking photos or taking video of precious IP.

It all culminates with a samurai performance to promote the upcoming FX series Shogun.

“The samurai are going to the after party, good luck getting to the bar,” Disney ad sales executive Rita Ferro told the crowd afterward.

Ferro said the ad business is “on the threshold of a massive transformation,” and that Disney+’s ad layer “has been delivering healthy growth in both subscribers and advertisers.”

There is no direct reference to the Writers Guild strike, or the modest picket line assembled on 11th Avenue, although Ferro hints at the challenges facing the industry bigger problem.

Daunting challenge,” Ferro said. “As the last few years have taught us, no matter how tough, you have to be ready for every moment, and Disney was ready for it.” Meet every challenge.

So even in the absence of any scripted talent, Disney managed to wow audiences with Marvel sneak peeks and household names.

While Disney executives were present, from Feige, Kennedy and Ferro to Dana Walden, Jimmy Pitaro, Alan Bergman and FX president John Landgraf, one was absent: Hollywood politician and Disney CEO Bob Iger, who was playing in France role, to meet French President Emanuel Macron at the Versailles summit.

Meanwhile, at the Javits Center, attendees had Disney ice sculptures on them as the sun set over the Hudson Sipping drinks in the bar.



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